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Full text of "A search in secret Egypt"

268             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
the adventurous passage of the newly arrived soul, for they were sacred texts taken from The Book of the Gates and The Book of Him who is in the Underworld. These texts told of the nether world of spirits, of the serpent powers who guarded it, and of a bottomless hell whose blackness was complete. They told, too, how the passage of the soul should be guarded so as to escape the dreadful ordeals, what addresses should be made to the judgment gods, and how the latter should be answered.
I moved deeper and deeper into the tomb, the inclined passage yielding to a chamber, and the latter to another sloping passage, and this repeating itself until I had penetrated nearly three-hundred feet into the hill. Thousands of tons of solid rock mounted above my head. Every inch of the walls was pictured and inscribed, the whole forming a processional of ancient Egyptian life and holding up a mirror to death. In the chief chamber there was a hollow in the floor to take a heavy granite sarcophagus which rested in it. Once, this stone coffin was the last dwelling of a richly jewelled Pharaoh, but his stiff mummy, with its coverings or pitch and linen, had been removed with all the other discovered mummies, to repose in the well-lit rooms of museums and satisfy twentieth-century curiosity.
Having run the gauntlet of multitudinous painted eyes, out of the thick yet cool gloom I emerged at last into the scorching rays and intolerable glare of the late morning sun, only to traverse a few yards of stony track and plunge again into another deep and decorated tomb. Half a dozen tombs were visited in this way, during a cursory survey of long stretches of instructive figured walls that would be revisited for close detailed research on later days, Seti's impressive tomb, although cut into the rock and down into the bowels of the earth more than four-hundred feet long, did not hold me so much as that smaller one of Ramcses IX, where I found sculptures and paintings that were outstanding among the Valley tombs. They were more spiritual than most of the others, bright and optimistic, lifting the niind up towards the glorious destiny of man and his unquenchable immortality, rather than depressing it.
Over the portal of the doorway was painted the great red disk of the sun, with Rameses himself worshipping it. The crude _ symbolism of this was, that as, in Nature, the red westering sun sinks into black night, so the soul of this king had gone down into the dark tomb with him; then, like the